ANKARA, Turkey — Turkey’s production program for its first new-generation main battle tank, the Altay, may be facing delays due to technological snags.
The president’s office lists the Altay in the military’s inventory as part of a 2020 program list, but a top businessman involved in the program said that might not be a reality until the end of 2021.
“I am hoping that the Altay would be at the battlefield within 24 months,” Ethem Sancak, a senior shareholder in BMC, said in an October speech. BMC, which is a joint Turkish-Qatari venture, is charged with building the Altay.
A procurement official told Defense News that “there are major problems concerning critical parts, like the engine and transmission.”
Western countries, particularly Germany, have been reluctant to share such critical technology with Turkey over political concerns.
The Turkish government and BMC signed the multibillion-dollar Altay contract in November 2018. The contract involves the production of an initial batch of 250 units, life-cycle logistical support, and the establishment by the contractor of a tank systems technology center and its operation. As part of the contract, BMC will design, develop and produce a tank with an unmanned fire control unit.
The contract said the first Altay tank is to roll off the assembly line within 18 months, but that target is “more than over-optimistic,” according to an industry source, who spoke to Defense News on condition of anonymity.
The source added that it will likely be “at least a few years" instead.
The Altay program is broken into two phases: T1 and T2. T1 covers the first 250 units, and T2 involves the advanced version of the Altay.
Under the original program, Turkey planned to eventually produce 1,000 Altays, to be followed by an unmanned version of the tank.
Burak Ege Bekdil is a Turkey correspondent for Defense News. He has written for Hurriyet Daily News, and worked as Ankara bureau chief for Dow Jones Newswires and CNBC-e television. He is also a fellow at the Middle East Forum and regularly writes for the Middle East Quarterly and Gatestone Institute.